Further thoughts on alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby

A frequent question that comes up in connection with alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby is “why him, why now?” especially since he’s hardly the first or only celebrity with a private life that is totally unlike his public persona.

It’s an interesting question. We’ve seen filmmakers like Roman Polanski and Woody Allen pilloried for their antics with underage girls, yet they both continue to work and even attract their fair share of supporters. With them at least we can manage to separate the work from the person (to varying degrees – I refuse to watch or pay for a movie by either of them). Why can’t we do the same with alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby?

Here’s how I see it. Bill Cosby’s body of work, especially in recent years, is Bill Cosby. There is no separation between the comedian, the actor, the social commentator and the man. It’s all him. If you applaud the comedian (as was done at a recent show in Florida) you’re also applauding the alleged serial rapist. I can’t do that. Even if he eventually admits to this, it’s too late for me. Why? Because of the damage. There are women who have had their lives ruined as a result of his actions and no amount of apology is going to make up for that.

And since we’re on that subject, let’s talk about those women. I know that there are many voices accusing them of lying, profiteering and more. But here’s the thing. First of all, why would these women lie? The statute of limitations on these alleged crimes has long since passed. There is no possibility of him being prosecuted. None at all. Although there have been lawsuits, they’ve been settled privately out of court. There’s no reason to believe that anyone will profit from suing alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby.

What’s most troubling about the accusers is this: why do we automatically cast doubt on women who say they’ve been raped? It’s not just this case, every woman who accuses a man of raping her will be subjected to the most vile questioning in court in an attempt to discredit her. Unsurprisingly, women hesitate to press charges knowing their entire life will be subjected to ridicule. Who wouldn’t? We as a society should be ashamed of this behavior but this case proves that we’re not. And it’s not just “men’s rights activists”. Alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby received a standing ovation the other night and you can bet that it wasn’t just men doing the applauding. What does this sat about us?

As I said earlier, I was a fan from childhood. I was disappointed when the news of his martial infidelities first surfaced but I convinced myself it wasn’t unusual and besides, his wife stood by him. Of course, she’s still with him. It’s none of my business (or anyone else’s) why she is, that’s her decision to make. But a pattern of drugging and raping women isn’t something you can just overlook or wave away as “boys will be boys”. There’s nothing to make him admit anything other than his own conscience. Perhaps some day, he will listen to it.

When downtown Rochester was a destination

Younger people may not realize it, but downtown Rochester was once the place to go, whether to shop or just visit. It still was when I came to Rochester in 1975. We knew that there were malls in Greece and out in Victor but they were far away and didn’t seem to offer anything we couldn’t find at Sibley’s, McCurdy’s or in Midtown.

But once the malls in Henrietta and Irondequoit were built starting in the 80s, downtown lost its charm and ability to draw visitors from the suburbs. By the 90s both stores had been sold, renamed and the downtown stores closed forever. By the time my job took me to downtown, Midtown was a shadow of its former self, with empty stores outnumbering the open ones. I haven’t been in a department store in years, and visits to a mall are limited to the Apple Store.

Midtown and McCurdy’s has been mostly torn down and replaced with some nondescript buildings housing some generic company. There are plans to renovate the tower section, which was stripped down to its steel girders. I’m sure it will be nice, as such things go, but it won’t be like it was and perhaps could have been.

When Your Comic Hero Is an Alleged Rapist

Bill Cosby was the first comedian I knew of as a comedian, not just some old guy telling corny jokes that my parents found funny. Like Doug McIntyre, my friends and I listened to everything that he did; I still use his “voopa voopa” sound to describe cutting wood with a hand saw.

But at some point, even us diehard fans have to deal with the fact that he is an alleged serial rapist.

I remember hearing about his marital infidelities and not thinking much about them. But repeated stories, all very similar, by women going back as far as 1969 of being drugged and raped are demanding of more reflection.

Cosby has been a frequent social critic, particularly in recent years, but has not shed a spotlight on his own behavior. It’s time for that to change. It’s time for Bill Cosby to confess and make amends to those whose lives he has permanently damaged. Then he needs to go away. He’s had a life and a career, two things denied to the women he raped. The world owes him nothing more.

Gut Microbes and the Brain

In the past decade or so there’s been growing realization of the importance of the bacteria that lives in our intestinal tract. Mostly it’s been focused on digestive issues, but some have long claimed that they also effect our mental health. The US National Institute of Mental Health commissioned a study on that aspect and they’re presenting the evidence for that link in a symposium next week. There are still some questions, of course, but it should at least open the way for further study and potential treatments for mental health issues that don’t seem to respond to conventional measures.

Joan Clarke, the woman who cracked the Enigma with Alan Turing

One of the downsides with the secrecy associated with the breaking of the Enigma machine in WWII was that the stories about what happened there were classified for decades and even then some of the participants were reluctant to talk about it. One was them was Joan Clarke who worked side-by-side with Alan Turing throughout the entire project and after. Due to the rampant sexism that was built in to the system, she couldn’t be hired as a cryptanalyst (men only) but had to be classified as a linguist. She was paid the same as the other “girls” at first but was quickly recognized for her technical abilities.

Women had important roles in the development of computers and the information age we currently live in. It’s time for us to acknowledge them and encourage their contemporaries instead of forcing them out.